Category: Homeschooling

I know, a school post!  I’m in shock, too. I keep meaning to photograph and post the units we have done over the past months, but I’m not sure it is ever going to get done, so I’m starting where we are.  We do Five In A Row one book per month, so this has been our book for March. It’s a really beautiful book and I would suggest getting it even if you don’t homeschool.

Unfortunately, HomeschoolShare, our favorite place to find printable resources, has recently decided not to supply lapbook printables to go with FIAR books anymore.  So this lapbook is  a lot more “handmade.” Not really a bad thing, except that it does take a lot longer, so we don’t have as many booklets in this lapbook.

Here is our (almost finished) lapbook:


Geography: The book takes place in Virginia on the Chesapeake Bay.  We learned about bays and studied a bit about Virginia.  Matt used to live there, too – so we found where he lived on a map and then used Google maps and street view to find the house.


Language Arts: We went over vocabulary (scattered through the lapbook), read the first person narrative, made a list of first person pronouns, and learned about foreshadowing.  We also talked about the style of poetic prose and how the author used a list of opposites to finish the story.  Autumn made her own list of poetic prose contrasts.

Bible/Character Study: Obedience and responsibility. Did James 4:17 copywork.

Art: Talked about watercolors and loved examining the beautiful artwork in the book.  We discussed perspective, viewpoint, and shadows.  Autumn painted a zillion watercolors including the one on the back of the book showing perspective.  We also took a trick photo using perspective.

Math: We use a completely separate math curriculum, but took this opportunity to do some multiple-digit subtraction and learn how to calculate years.




  • World War II – This is the second unit in a row that we have done on WWII.  Next unit will also include WWII.  So we are doing a more in-depth study using “The Good Fight” by Stephen Ambrose.  We read, and then Autumn narrates back for the notecards.  We may have to make a different lapbook for this material, as it is quickly growing in quantity.
  • George M. Cohan – Since our story included “Over There” we talked about the song and the important role it played in WWI and WWII.  Autumn did copywork of the chorus. We watched the Hollywood version of Cohan’s life in “Yankee Doodle Dandy” rented from Amazon.
  • Patriotism was another topic we covered and Autumn did more copywork on The Pledge of Allegiance.



  • Horizon – We talked about the concept of the horizon and then read about how people used to think the world was flat, and various myths.
  • Shadows – Autumn traced her Dad’s shadow at different hours throughout the day to see how the size and angles change over time.
  • Oil and Water – In the story, the children wade in an oily bay, thinking no one will know, but as soon as she sees them, their grandmother knows what happened.  How? We used cooking oil, colored salt water, and plastic animals to show how the oil clings to things. Then we talked about oil spills and how rescuers clean wild animals trapped in them.







Well, it has been a much longer than intended break from the blog.  Our lives have been so busy, there just hasn’t been any time!  However, I’m trying to get back into the habit of posting our unit studies, if nothing else. Most of the ones from last year never made it on the blog, so maybe, MAYBE I will be able to play catch up on those too.  Finally, because I am writing this post late at night after a very long day, I guarantee typos and grammatical errors. 😉

Our back to school “row” was How To Make an Apple Pie and See the World.  While I wasn’t really thrilled about this book at first, it turned out to be so much fun.  Autumn loved all the humor in the book and read it to herself over and over again before we even started the unit.  Apple Pie is a crazy jaunt all over the world and we had a lot of fun with geography projects this unit.

I made extensive use of youtube for various videos on how things are made.  Autumn did a lot of other read-aloud books, too.  We used lapbook templates from and combined the lapbook for Apple Pie and the Johnny Appleseed lapbook into one big lapbook with lots of extra items that we put together.  You can check out my Apple Pie pinterest board for links to many of the videos, books, and activities we used. Here is her completed lapbook with photos of a few of the projects we did:

We did so much stuff with this unit that it’s hard to know where to start!  I guess I’ll just go over some of the highlights.

Johnny Appleseed

I learned just about as much as Autumn did about the real life Johnny Appleseed, John Chapman.  We read several books about him, talked about stewardship and character, mapped his travels, his place in history, talked about myths and legends vs. facts, learned the “Johnny Appleseed Grace” and even watched the classic Disney short on youtube. 🙂


In addition to marking each country on our world map, we made a passport to record each place we “visited” during the unit.  I think this might have been Autumn’s favorite part as we got to pretend she was bringing all of her items through customs at each country check-in.  As you can imagine, the customs agent was getting pretty concerned by the end of the book when she was checking through a cow, chicken, wheat, cinnamon, sugarcane, salt, and apples!  She also did a “where in the world” book for each country and colored their flags.



Italy’s stop included a review of Italy (we studied with Papa Piccolo in the past) and an online tour of a pasta factory (via youtube) as well as discussion of how Semolina (Durum) differs from other wheat. We made a little booklet on how wheat is grown, harvested, and processed.  Autumn has helped me grind wheat for bread many times!


For France, we did a review of the books we have already studied about France (Madeline, Mirette on the High Wire, The Glorious Flight) and then started learning about chickens.  “Facts about Chickens” came from a chicken lapbook on HomeschoolShare.  Autumn told me step-by-step directions on how to make an omelette from a cooking demonstration we attended last year…and then made omelettes for dinner all by herself for Matt one night while I was away from home!   We also got to see baby chicks hatching when we went to the fair and she got to hold them, too.


Sri Lanka/Cinnamon

This was the first time we had studied Sri Lanka.  I was grateful to find lots of youtube videos on how cinnamon is grown, harvested, and dried.  I’m pretty sure I learned more than Autumn with this one – it was fascinating!  After watching all the videos, we made a booklet on cinnamon and made some gluten free cinnamon toast.  A trip to a grocery store catering to the international community was in order, so we headed out to buy cinnamon sticks, sugarcane, and various apple varieties.  (True, the cinnamon and sugarcane are from the U.S., but I still think we got close enough!)



Since we have studied Englad already (Peter Rabbit, The Glorious Flight), this was another review country.  Autumn loves to help with the milking any time she is in Indiana, so she was pretty familiar with that side of things. We decided to make our own butter – all she had to do was shake heavy cream in a jar until it turned into butter.  Then she got to eat it on her grits – yum!  (This southern girl LOVES her grits!)  We also visited a machine milking demonstration at the fair and learned about how butter is made commecially.



Jamaica was another first time “visit” for us. We found some great videos of the sugarmaking process and saw lots of different methods: from juice extraction using oxen and boiling the juice in a huge pan over an open fire, to modern production. Autumn made a book about how sugarcane is made into sugar. We also got some fresh sugarcane from the grocery store and Autumn loved it!  (On a side note, it was pretty funny when Autumn started watching one of the videos that was made in Jamaica and suddenly discovered where her soccer coach’s accent comes from. :-))


It was a happy accident that just as we started talking about Vermont, we started reading Justin Morgan Had A Horse out loud.  And what do you know, in the very beginning of the book is a lesson on how the first settlers in Vermont gave it it’s name. I love when things just fall together like this!

Science – Evaporation/Salt

One of the concepts that comes up in Apple Pie, is evaporating sea water to get salt.  We have studied salt and evaporation before, but did a simple experiment as a reminder.  We also talked about how sugarcane juice turns into sugar as the water in the juice evaporates from cooking.


Math – Fractions and Measuring

We did lots of word problems introducing fractions and measuring and Autumn helped me measure out ingredients for several recipes.

Language Arts

Autumn learned lots of new vocabulary words and did some apple-related copywork. We had a lot of discussion on Language Arts topics too, especially how the author uses humor to keep the story interesting.


And of course, the star of the show: apples! Let’s see…we learned about and labeled the parts of an apple, colored the stages of an apple tree throughout the seasons, cut open apples to see how many seeds they have, and did a blind taste test of five different varieties to discover which ones we like the best. Autumn likes Granny Smith! While we have NOT managed to make an apple pie yet, Autumn is planning on helping make pies at Thanksgiving when “the uncles” come to visit and can help eat them. 🙂

February Wrap-Up

February has been a really busy and fun month! We started a new family hobby, took several day trips, had a lot of fun in school, and did a lot of reading. 🙂

At the beginning of the month, we tried geocaching for the first time and all of us (especially Matt!) are hooked!  It’s such a fun, inexpensive, and active way to spend an afternoon outside.  It’s also fun to find out just how popular it is around here.  When we ran a search we found that there were 126 caches hidden within 5 miles of our house!

We took field trips to Dauset Trails nature center to see the owls (for our current homeschool unit) as well as to the Atlanta Zoo.  Dauset Trails is one of our favorite places to visit on a day trip.   It is a privately-owned nature center that houses many wild animals that have been injured or cannot be released into the wild.  Lots of birds, local wildlife, even a cougar and black bear.  There are also beautiful gardens and trails, a reptile/amphibian center, a farm, and duck and fish ponds.  And it’s all free!


Our trip to the Zoo also turned out to be free, thanks to the pass program at our local library.  I’ve been checking for about a year, but the pass is always unavailable.  Finally, they had it in, so we had a somewhat spontaneous trip to plan.  The Atlanta Zoo was a lot smaller than the ones I visited growing up, but we still had a great time.  And the smaller scale meant we got to do a little geocaching in historic Grant Park, too.


Autumn and I took this last week off of school and I really enjoyed the little break, though I think Autumn will be happy to get back to routine tomorrow.  She’s getting started in her second grade math book and we’re enjoying a unit study based off of Owl Moon right now.  We’ve been busy with homeschool co-op as well; learning about lots of artists in the class I’m teaching and making lots of messes with paint, pastels, and crayons.  Autumn is also really enjoying P.E. and the science class she is taking.

We’re wrapping up the end of the month by getting started with soccer again.  Autumn just had her first practice with the local soccer association (first time we have done anything other than Upward) and she loved it.  First game is Saturday!

Rowing The Story of Ferdinand

I…I mean Autumn…learned a lot with this unit.  It’s amazing how much I’ve been learning for the first time as we study for Five in a Row.  Almost all of the printables for this lapbook came from HomeschoolShare or EnchantedLearning.  For everything else, as well as lots of links to videos, etc. check out my Pinterest board.

Geography: Spain was a new stop for us with Five in a Row.  A lot of our geography time was spent determining what a peninsula is, learning about the flag, and making another “circle map” like we did for Mirette.  We also talked about culture, food, etc.  Also, ran across the cutest little paper dolls from all around the world.


Science: Noses and Smelling, Bath Salts

Since Ferdinand’s favorite thing to do is to “sit and smell the flowers,” we studied how the nose works and how we process scents.  Books from the library and an episode of The Magic School Bus helped with the explanations and then Autumn narrated back to me how it all works.  We made a shaped mini book showing all the work the nose does.  Then Autumn experimented with mixing different fragrances and seeing what she could come up with.


To go along with the scent study, we made lavender scented bath salts with purchased fragrance and Spanish lavender from our flower garden.  We mixed Epsom Salts, baking soda, and fragrance together and then jarred them up with some sprigs of fresh lavender.

Vocabulary: Bullfighting Terms, Vocab Cards, Spanish Books

Autumn learned lots of new words with this unit.  We also printed a couple Spanish books from Enchanted Learning.

Language Arts: Interjections, Repetition 

Since these are both used a lot in the book, we used this chance to learn about interjections and repetition.

Science: Cork Trees

  I was fascinated to learn about cork trees in this unit.  I had never even thought about a lot of the things we learned about, like how environmentally friendly wine corks are!  We found some great videos on YouTube and then did this mini book.  It also led to a bit of a rabbit trail on Iberian Lynx and Autumn insisted we add a picture of one to her book.

Math: Measuring Inches and Feet

In the book, a tree shows Ferdinand’s height as he grows.  We played with measuring tape and then worked on translating feet into inches and yards using Autumn’s MUS blocks.  I don’t even know how many measuring tapes she has.  Every time we go to Hobby Lobby, she insists on having her own 40% off coupon and buying another one!


Art: Drawing Cows and Picasso 

A drawing book from the library on how to draw farm animals was lots of fun for Autumn.  She enjoyed practicing drawing bulls and this is her version of Ferdinand.

As we have been every unit this year, we chose an artist from the country we were studying and read Mike Venezia’s book.  This time it was Picasso.  Then, we did this fun “Fractured Friend” activity from Discovering Great Artists.  Autumn started with a photo of one of her uncles then drew a picture.  Next she chopped it up and re-assembled it in the style of Picasso.


Crafts: Funny Hats and Poppies 

Inspired by the “five men in funny hats” in the story, Autumn made these hats using some cardboard hat kits I had picked up for pennies each during a clearance sale.  Her favorite by far is the one with flowers cutout from a gardening catalog.  Autumn also enjoyed making coffee filter poppies.


Spanish Feast: We had our feast at the very beginning of the unit this time, so that my mom and sister could take part as well.  We looked through lots of Spanish food recipes and tapas ideas and made this huge feast inspired by what we saw.  We were actually able to get several food items from Spain (Marcona almonds, candied walnuts, cheese, sausage) on mark-down at the grocery store.  Amazing what you can find when you are looking hard! Autumn and Miriam made banners to decorate the dining room and we cooked, and cooked, and cooked.  It was delicious and we were eating leftovers for a week.

Drama: We did drama cards again with this book, since Autumn loves them so much.  I think it inspired her, because one day after school she gathered up a bunch of her stuffed animals and items from her room and put on a “play” of Ferdinand in five acts.  She played several of the characters.  I was the only audience, but I did snap a few photos.  It was so cute.  This is also why my house is never clean – she pulls out EVERYTHING!!  Can you guess which scenes these are from the story?


Here’s a little look at our “row” of Mirette on the High Wire.  Printables are from HomeschoolShare or EnchantedLearning.  Here’s the inside of our lapbook.  We still need to add in some photos, but otherwise, all the projects are here.

Life Skills – Chores/Cooking

Unfortunately, I didn’t manage to get photos of any of this.   The first day, Autumn learned how to make an omelet!  We had fun and we each got our own yummy omelet.  I think I need to get her to make them again for breakfast tomorrow – yum! 🙂

Mirette’s mother is a boardinghouse keeper and Mirette spends most of her time doing chores to help her mother.  Autumn tried lots of chores Mirette does in the book, including scrubbing floors, washing windows, chopping vegetables, washing sheets, etc. She decided that running a boardinghouse would be too much work.  I agree!

Eiffel Tower

This was visit number four to France with five in a row, so we decided to focus on the Eiffel Tower instead of the broad look at geography/culture we usually do.  We watched The History Channel’s The Eiffel Tower movie on Netflix streaming while Autumn practiced taking notes.  Then she narrated her version of the history for this report.

Vocab, Drama, French Words

We have been making drama cards for each unit, since Autumn so enjoys acting out the stories. Vocabulary cards and French color word cards are from HomeschoolShare.


Geography – Bellini’s Career, Circle Map

We pulled out Autumn’s new globe (the main thing she wanted for her birthday) to trace the career of Bellini the high wire walker all over the world.  We marked each place mentioned on the map.

I’ve seen this idea for “me on a map” all over the internet, but adapted it to our book.  We have been studying the continents in geography, but Autumn has a hard time with getting continents and countries mixed up.  This helped her with the concept – the continents fit in the planet, the countries into the continents, the city into the country, etc. We may add this as an element for upcoming units as well.


Our topics this unit were “practice makes perfect” and boasting.  Both printables were from HomeschoolShare.  The practice makes perfect mini is a cool pull tab that Autumn wrote on, adding a list of things at which she wants to excel.  Love that there are lots of school things on there. 🙂

Language Arts – Compound Words

Autumn loved learning about compound words, especially since it involved a timer!  We used the printables from HomeschoolShare and played a game to see how fast she could match them up. Forty-three seconds!


Art – Complimentary Colors

The coolest part about this activity, was the fact that we got to pull out our Papa Piccolo lapbook and use the color wheel we made in our last unit to figure out which colors are complimentary.  Love it when the learning builds like this, especially when you are not doing the units in order!


Science – Ears/Balance

Delightful Learning (one of my favorite homeschool blogs) used experiments on balance from Usborne Science Activities Vol. 3, so I ordered it from the library.  My mom and little sister were in town (helping me out while I had surgery), so Autumn and Miriam got to do these projects together. Glitter in a jar of water to show how we get dizzy…

Feeling the vibrations as you talk against a balloon…

Diagram of inside of ear, finding the parts that help with balance.

Art – Renoir

We did Renoir for this unit.  We read Mike Venezia’s book and then did an activity from Discovering Great Artists.  Autumn collected various items from the yard and the house and arranged her own still-life and painted her impression of it.

Rowing Papa Piccolo

I had never read this story until we started studying it.  What a sweet picture book!  We used lots of printable resources from HomeschoolShare and Enchanted Learning for this lapbook, as well as lots of ideas that other homeschoolers shared online. Here are pictures of part of the inside of our lapbook.  (And yes, I just noticed one of Autumn’s beloved chick-fil-a sauce tubs made it into one of those pics!  lol.)

And now, in no particular order, some of the things we studied:

Science: Salt Crystals

In Venice: Birth of a City we learned how Venice began and gained wealth based on the salt harvested from the seawater marshes.  So we made salt crystals!  I was surprised by just how easy this was and how much A enjoyed it. We made several colors.


Art: Michelangelo

After reading about Michelangelo, we did an activity from Discovering Great Artists.  Autumn did some “ceiling painting” using paper taped to the bottom of a card table.  She decided that this would have been a horrible job and that she does NOT like painting upside down at all.  (Gotta love the concentration though – watch that tongue!)


Social Studies: Venice

We read about Venice and also watched an A&E video on netflix streaming about the Canals of Venice.  Autumn colored this little mini-book, and we used it to record her narration of the history of the city.

Art: Drawing Cats

A google image search led to a kid’s tutorial for drawing cats.   Autumn drew TONS of them and then added Piccolo, Marco, and Polo to her lapbook.

Science: Eyes, Peripheral Vision

In the book, Piccolo sees the kittens as a blur from the “corner of his eye” so we used this as a jumping off point for discussion of peripheral vision.  We did a few activities related to this, as well as reading about how the eye works and identifying various parts.  (more on this later)

Language: Italian Words

Autumn had fun learning new words for colors, family members, numbers, etc. with this mini book.  Then we printed out a picture dictionary which she has enjoyed coloring.  She loves finding words in it, so we’ve used it to work on the most basic of dictionary skills as well.


The Fox and the Grapes

This fable is illustrated by Piccolo’s actions at one point in the story.  Autumn leaned the fable and moral and then colored the front of this mini book.  In our geography book, she was learning about volcanoes the day we did this lesson. Later, as I was gluing this into the book, I cracked up as I noticed that she had turned the background mountains into volcanoes.

Drama Cards

Autumn enjoyed this activity so much, that it may be one we add to other units.  Each card lists a different action word or phrase drawn from the story.  I read them aloud, and she acts them out.  Great entertainment! 😉

Gondolas and Gondoliers 

Autumn made this little gondola from a Crayola coloring page online.  Then made her own gondolier and several little cats as well (which I couldn’t find for the picture), so that she can play out the Piccolo story.

Language Arts: Vocabulary

We used vocabulary words from the story, as well as others we added from our rabbit trails.  Autumn illustrated each card.

Science: Cat Eyes

Using online resources, we read about the differences between cat and human eyes and then made a little flip book.  Autumn wrote most of it out herself, with a little help towards the end.


Geography: Italian Map Activities

Another printable activity sheet.  She identified various points on a map and colored accordingly.

History: Marco Polo

We found another animated video on YouTube which Autumn watched.  We then read a bit about Marco Polo and wrote a little report using notebooking pages from HomeschoolShare.

Art: Color Wheel

We both enjoyed making our own color wheels using watercolors. It’s fun to watch her do “magic tricks” changing the colors by mixing them.

Pussy Cat

Autumn memorized the classic nursery rhyme for this little mini.


Big Project – Eyeball Dissection!

I am forever grateful to have in-laws near by who can handle more of the gross science stuff than I can!  Autumn and her Aunt Miriam had a great day out with Autumn’s “Pop,” taking apart an eyeball.  (And I stayed far away!)

Rowing “The Glorious Flight”

I’ll admit that I wasn’t super enthused about this unit, but it ended up being really fun.  And I got to hand off field-trip duty to my father-in-law who loves planes! 😉

Geography: We started off locating the English Channel on our world map and Autumn’s new globe.  Then we did a little review on France (which we had studied before with Madeline).  Autumn colored the flags of France and England, did a French flag activity, and traced Bleriot’s route across the channel. We also made gluten free crepes to eat.  Unfortunately, my camera battery died before I could get pictures of the finished product, but they were good!

Science: We’re working through a butterfly/insect unit at co-op right now as well as continuing Beginning Geography at home.  For The Glorious Flight, we made paper airplanes!  Autumn folded the first one, but then she was done.  She told me which ones to make though. 😉 Autumn practiced her Roman Numerals in naming the planes and we drew an “English Channel” with French and English coastlines on the driveway with sidewalk chalk. A paper ship is in the channel to rescue downed planes.  Autumn also made popsicle stick spectators, but I don’t think those really show up in the pictures.

We made lots of different types of airplanes and had contests to see which kind of plane flew the best and what the best way was to throw them.

Language Arts: For language arts we did a little onomatopoeia book using examples from Glorious Flight, a book of airplane vocabulary words, and a descriptive phrase activity.


I especially loved the descriptive phrase exercise.  Autumn needed to write several short phrases describing anything she wanted to.  She didn’t have to make a poem, but…

“Sweet, yummy, mushy

Dried-up treat

Put in a box

For people to eat.”

Raisins, of course. 🙂

Math: In addition to Math-U-See, we did some work on Roman Numerals and Ordinal Numbers drawn from our book.  We checked out a couple books on Roman Numerals from the library, and Autumn caught on really fast!  We did a couple ordinal numbers projects, one a printed mini-book from and the other was listing the different courses of a fancy French meal, along with illustrations.



Autumn made a mini about the concept of restitution – as displayed in The Glorious Flight and the Bible.  We also talked about the spirit of invention and how inventors display determination and dedication as they try, try, and try again.  Autumn did some copywork from II Chronicles on this topic.  She also watched a video about Edison and his many attempts to make the light bulb.

Art: This time we read about Monet and the impressionists.  Autumn did a fun painting activity dabbling in watercolors to create impressions of things she saw.  Then she made this one, imitating the bridge in Monet’s water garden, but adding a person walking over it and a setting sun.

History: We, of course, studied Louis Bleriot, the subject of The Glorious Flight.  We also read about the Wright Brothers in several books and found an animated movie about them as well.  Our library had a documentary on the history of flight, that she watched the majority of. Autumn dictated what she learned about the Wright Brothers for a notebooking activity as well.

Field Trip: I’m super happy to have in-laws close by!  Especially when it means I don’t have to spend all day at the Aviation Museum. 😉 Airplanes just are NOT my thing…Autumn had a blast though.  She got to see lots of things we had been studying, got to fill out her plane part ID book, and even got to ride in a real flight simulator.


Most of the printables here can be found at HomeschoolShare.  Thanks to Creekside Learning for the English Channel idea!




Curriculum 2011-2012: Art

So I’m realizing I know next to nothing about art.  We are going to change that.  And educate Autumn at the same time. 😉

Our core curriculum, Five In A Row, includes lots of art techniques and activities that go along with the children’s books we read, but I wanted to do more with the masters.  So we are adding in an artist or two (or more) that go along with the country we study for each unit of FIAR.

We check out a lot of books from the library but, Mike Venezia’s Getting To Know the World’s Greatest Artists series are by far my favorites for learning about the artists.  Autumn not only understands them completely, but she also reads at least part of each book aloud to me.  Yet, these books are not overly simplified.  I’m learning a lot. So is she. (This author also has a series on composers, another on inventors, and yet another on presidents!)

For activities, we discovered Discovering Great Artists by Mary Anne Kohl and Kim Solga. I’ve gotta tell you, I may be in love with this book.  It’s just so much FUN!  We’re loving every minute of it.  While the Venezia books teach you about the artists, this book teaches about their techniques and is super kid-friendly.  The activities are interesting and relevant, but generally don’t use any materials that you wouldn’t already have on hand.  I’m so happy with this book, that I’m planning of teaching a class based on it for our local homeschool co-op next semester.

Artists are sorted by the time they lived, the type of art they made, what you need for the activities, etc.  The only thing I wish was included is an index of what country each artist is originally from, as that would help with the way we are choosing people to study.  But I guess that’s what the internet is for. 🙂

Speaking of the internet, we’re also using the web for art.  While I would love to be able to see the artist’s works in real life, most of the time that’s just not possible since we live in the middle of nowhere when it comes to museums.  So the internet is extremely helpful to see additional pieces that are not in the books we read. You may want to check out this blog as well: Holly’s Arts and Crafts Corner.

At some point this year, I would like to make a special field trip visit to The High again.  Matt and I loved spending a day there before, and I’m hopeful that after spending so much time learning about them, Autumn will be able to appreciate the works and not be bored.

1st Day

These are pictures from our first day back to school.

Autumn is five.

And we had breakfast out at Waffle House.

AND we got to sit at the counter.

Because that’s what she wanted.

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. 🙂