Sunday, May 29, 2016

A New Coat for Anna {FIAR}

I am a bit behind on my Five in a Row updates. Rose and I rowed A New Coat for Anna several weeks ago. It is a lovely little story about folks helping each other during hard times. It is also a good way to learn about all the work that goes into producing a wool coat by hand! It is a Christmasy book, but she wanted to row it sooner rather than later.

Here's what we did!

*Social Studies*

  • She found Europe on the map - the book doesn't tell us exactly where the story takes place, but we do know it takes place in Europe after the war. 
  • We talked about taking pride in your work - everyone does their best to fulfill their role in making the new coat. 
  • Using the manual, we discussed bartering: what it is, and why there is so much of it in this story. Mother doesn't have enough money to buy Anna a new coat, so she trades some of her valued possessions in order to get the materials and labor needed. 

*Language Arts*

  • The manual included several comprehension questions, so I asked her those. 
  • We talked about the information learned in this story - it is not just a story about Anna and her mother, but also a story about how a coat is made. The manual suggested having the student write their own "how-to" story, but Rose had just written something similar (how to get on a horse) for a Writing Strands assignment, so she opted not to. 
  • We discussed the use of repetition in the story. Anna's mother repeatedly says, "Anna needs a new coat. I have no money, but..." She then goes on to barter for the things she needs. 

  • We looked at the illustrations together and discussed how we could tell it was wartime (boarded-up windows, obvious bombing, people begging in the streets). 
  • We talked about weaving, and to try it out, she made her first potholder using an old kit Grace had around. She loved this! I followed the tutorial here to bind it off for her. 

  • We talked about the careful way the artist drew expressions in this story - the faces of the characters are illustrated in such a way that we can really tell what they are feeling. 

  • We talked about measuring and the different ways we can measure things. Then we did the activity suggested in the manual. She measured our back porch with a tape measure, then a yardstick. 

And a puppy helper!

She measured again with a ruler.

  • She also tried measuring her waist with a regular tape measure, then with a fabric tape measure - it was immediately obvious why the tailor in the story used a soft tape measure!
  • As in the manual, we discussed patterns, then she made a pattern using some wooden shapes. 


  • We read the information in the manual about lingonberries (which Anna's mother uses to dye the yarn), then we tried some lingonberry jam. She liked it well enough, but it wasn't her favorite. Luckily, her brothers finished it off with their toast. 

  • We discussed why Anna's mother was willing to give up all of her things to get Anna a coat, and she thought it was because she didn't want Anna to be cold. We then talked a little bit about staying healthy in cold weather - including the importance of dressing warmly!
*More Fun *

  • We made a bundt cake like in the story, and had it with punch for a little "Christmas in spring" dessert. No photos of the bundt cake, because it did not come out of the pan nicely! 

My next FIAR post will be our recent row of All Those Secrets of the World.

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