Since we’ve been doing Five In A Row, I find that we are “rowing” books that are not even part of the curriculum.  This summer we read The Wheel on the School and Autumn loved it so much that we decided to use it as a jumping off point for a unit.

We did a reduced amount of school for about half of the summer, and then took the rest off.  Then we started up the first two weeks of school with Hana in the Time of the Tulips to continue our Holland theme.  We also read through about a third of Hans Brinker, but decided to read it again another time when Autumn’s comprehension level is a little higher.

If you are looking for printables, I highly suggest Homeschool Share.  Just about everything in this book came from their free resources.

Lapbook cover with handprint tulips using finger paints.

Geography: Autumn located the Netherlands on several different maps, made a flag, traced Stork migration patterns between Holland and Africa, and learned about the many of the attributes of the country.

We read lots of books about Holland, discussing the role water plays in the country: canals, dykes, dams, windmills, etc.  We also discussed the Dutch people, costumes, traditional industries and foods, and many of the symbols associated with Holland such as tulips, windmills, wooden shoes, etc.

Autumn made handprint tulips for the front of her lapbook.  We also used play-doh to build a model of a Dutch seaside town surrounded by a dyke.

The map skills section of Beginning Geography made a great addition as we learned about directions and the compass rose.  These tied in nicely with Hana in the Time of the Tulips. 🙂



Science: While we are also doing a science class in our weekly home-school co-op, we had a lot of fun doing projects drawn from the books as well.

Storks – This is what the Wheel on the School is all about! We learned a lot about storks and their habitats,  diets, migration, and various myths associated with the birds.

Rosemary – Hana’s mother tells her that rosemary is the “food of memory.”  And we discovered it is actually good for your brain! We studied rosemary: it’s physical attributes, life cycle, and uses.  Then Autumn used a French press to make fresh rosemary tea.

Plants – Since we were talking about rosemary already, I decided to bring in plant life cycles and different types of plants.  The herbs in our garden are doing great right now, so we collected samples and talked about annuals, biennials, and perennials, with samples of each.  Then, using printables from the Giant Science Resource Book, Autumn put together the life cycle of a tomato plant in order.


Fireflies – Did you know that even firefly eggs glow?  Hana’s nurse tells her that fireflies help chase away dark thoughts, so we took the opportunity to study the insects.  We read several books about fireflies and then Autumn completed a mini book on them as well as a lifecycle wheel.


The Heart –  Hana and her father play a game where she listens to his heartbeat at the beginning and end of the book.  We listened to heartbeats and then did several experiments using Blood and Guts.  We tried squeezing tennis balls to find out how hard the heart has to pump.  Made a matchstick and clay pulse meter.  And then did Autumn’s favorite thing from this book – dissected a cow heart! (She has told me she wants to do a brain next.) We then talked about how exercise changes your heart rate and the heart rates of some animals.

Language Arts: While we didn’t make a mini-book for them this time, Autumn learned a TON of new vocabulary words as we worked through the many books we read for this unit.  She also did a little character sketch of Janus, from The Wheel on the School.

Bible/Character: We talked about the concept of dark thoughts, how to get rid of them, and made a dark thoughts shape book.

We also talked about the concept of greed and what the Bible says about it.

Math: While we do a completely separate math curriculum, we did talk a bit about economics and the concept of “bubbles” as it related to the tulip craze in Holland at the time of the Hana book.  Also, about how it is important to store up riches in heaven instead of here on earth.

Art: This was my favorite part of the unit, although very little of it actually fit in the lapbook. 🙂  We went a little wild learning about several famous Dutch artists and techniques and had a great time.  I’m going to do another post on the art resources we are using this year, but here is a link to a great activity book in the meantime.

Delftware – When reading about the culture of Holland, we kept talking about Delftware, so decided to make our own.  We bought porcelain tiles from a home improvement store (I think they were .16 cents each?) and some conditioner and blue porcelain paint from a hobby store.  (I’m sure you could use regular paint, but we wanted the glossy, glass-like effect.) Then Autumn spent an afternoon painting away!  She tried to incorporate some motifs that we noticed in pictures of Delftware, such as windmills, storks, and boats.

Tulips – I am constantly getting garden and bulb catalogs in the mail, so this was a great way to make use of them.  Autumn chose her favorite tulips from the catalogs, cut them out,  and pasted them into a small scrapbook.  Then she used different techniques to draw, paint, or color her interpretations of the photos on the opposite page.

Vermeer – We read a couple books about Vermeer and looked at many pieces of art, noticing how he used light.  We didn’t have an activity to go with this, but both learned a lot!

Rembrandt – We read a book on Rembrant and Autumn watched a video from the library.  One of her favorite activities was making sketches of herself.  Rembrandt used to practice sketching himself with all sorts of different expressions, so she looks in the mirror and did the same. The results are great fun!  Autumn also sketched me with a light directed on to half of my face, with the other half in shadow.  Then I did the same for her.

Van Gogh – We read about Van Gogh as well, and then Autumn did several paintings using thickened tempera paint and popsicle sticks to show how Van Gogh used so much paint on his work.  She also tried mixing colors directly on her canvas.  She had a blast combining colors to make new ones! I’m hoping we will also have time to work on a Starry Night project before we start our next unit on Monday.

Sunset with an orange balloon.

Purple sunset with flower and a house.

Mondrian – We didn’t have much luck finding any child-friendly books about Mondrian, but our art activity book had some information and we found more online.  Autumn designed this page which covers the back of her lapbook. She used black electrical tape (with some help to get straight lines) and markers to make a Mondrian-inspired piece of artwork. I was pleasantly surprised by how she chose to place the grid.  I expected something a little more symmetrical, but she was pretty creative. 🙂