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Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Ox-Cart Man Reading Literacy Activity


  There is no better way to introduce simple economics to Kindergarten than by using the wonderful story, "Ox-Cart Man" by Donald Hall. 

     It never ceases to amaze me how fascinated children become by this simple story, where a New England farmer from the early 1800's, travels to market with the various items he and his family have created or grown throughout the year, sells them, and then purchases items to take back home. 


  I really wanted to make some activities that would help my kids to play-act this story, because I consistently find that allowing them to play out what they have heard is allowing their learning to sink in at a whole new level. 


And I am pretty excited by the final results, because these activities were fun, applicable and perfect for Reading Literacy Circles or a homeschooling lesson. 

First, let's look at the "Buying Like the Ox-Cart Man" Activity


   I decided to have my son and daughter work as a pair for this one, and gave each of them four Shillings to cut out from the bottom half of the Activity Sheet.

Then, I walked them both through the items that they could purchase on the top half of the Activity Sheet.  I explained they would get to make purchases with eight shillings each.  Since we just read Ox-Cart Man, they listened intently and carefully considered their options. 


My daughter chose to buy a baby ox for her first purchase.  My son chose a chicken and bucket and tap for his. 


They had so much fun taking turns to be the buyer and the seller of these items and even my young Kinder could easily do the math of counting out her shillings. 

They weren't even ready to end their play-fun and move on to the craft!  Until they saw what it was...


Once again, I decided to let them share the work because this is a LOT of cutting for small kids, and children unfamiliar with using scissors are going to need some help. 


The finished craft page creates an ox-cart, an ox, a sack of potatoes, a sack of wool, a broom and a pair of mittens. 

If you are homeschooling, I'd recommend taking it a step further and asking children what other items they can come up with to take to market in their cart to sell.  My daughter found a blanket and a duck in her toy box and brought these down to add to her wares.


My son took the initiative to cut up some Q-tips to make "candles", just like the Ox-Cart Man had in the story.


The final activity in the packet is the Beginning Sentences Worksheet, really excellent for taking it to another level with your older kids.  I encouraged my son to consider the differences between "Needs" and "Wants" and then he drew a picture (again, from the items displayed) of each in the indicated boxes.


Final step was finishing the sentence by writing down the items he chose.  I find this step excellent when discussing beginning economics with kids, because differentiating between "needs" and "wants" is an important facet of economics which we, as a wealthier nation, often have the luxury of
ignoring.  But in third world nations or in the 1800's, this was a step that definitely had to be considered.


To purchase this Reading Packet for "Ox-Cart Man", head over to my store.   But in the comments, I'd love to hear additional ideas for this story or additional ideas for teaching economics in the Kindergarten class.  Thanks for reading!



Friday, April 14, 2017

When Studying Ancient South American Civilizations


We have reached Chapter 26 in Story of the World.  For all the history of the Americas before Europeans arrived, one chapter seems a small section to spend on the Western Hemisphere, so we decided to create an additional supplemental activity.  Enter, our Mayan Paper People


Whenever I create one of these Paper People Packets, I usually end up doing quite a bit of research to learn enough to create the clothing.


It's a fascinating study.  For instance, I did not know that the Mayans embellished their teeth with jewelry.  Or that feathers were for royalty only, and if a commoner wore a feather, they could be killed for their presumption.  Learning about the clothing helps us learn about the civilization.


I recommend using card-stock for printing our Paper People.  The clothing can be printed on standard white paper, both the color and the black and white sheets that are intended for being colored.


Smaller children will need help cutting out these detailed images.  And we always pull out either our colored pencils or our gel pens to do this kind of intricate coloring work.


But using these kind of artist tools often instills more of a respect for the work for children.  My kids go extra careful and really spend the time on these small pieces of art, when we do this. 


For the props and backgrounds for our paper people, I discovered that there is a peculiar hairless dog that is considered a Mayan animal.  We also learned that dog was considered a perfectly reasonable meal and was consumed regularly.  That was a shocking piece of information for my kids, actually.


So we included a dog, and a few pieces of Mayan artifacts, just to give our happy Mayan couple a feeling of home. 


It's a happy meeting of fun activity, historical facts and multi-cultural discovery. 

What are your favorite additional supplemental activities when teaching more about the Ancient World?  I'd love for you to share in the comments!

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

A Reading Literacy Activity for The Quiltmaker's Gift


We all have our favorites:  you know the ones:  those picture books that are so heart-rendingly beautiful that you almost have to read it with a tissue tucked into a hand because you know you're going to cry at that one page.

"Guess How Much I love You" by Sam McBratney...


"Love You Forever" by Robert Munsch...


"Knuffle Bunny Free" by Mo Willems...



Did I hit one of your favorites there?

Well, I want to introduce you to another tear-jerker children's book that has an incredible message, unforgettable pictures and...I ugly-cried through the entire last half of it the first (and maybe second) time I read it.

"The Quilt-maker's Gift" by Jeff Brumbeau.


I stumbled upon this book when I was trying to find "Q" books to read to my oldest when we were going through Letter of the Week curriculum.  And I fell in love with it.


And now it is one of our family classics, and one of my son's favorite children's books.  So, what's the story about?


The story introduces us to a mysterious Quilt-maker who lives on a mountain top and makes incredibly beautiful quilts.  So lovely are the quilts that many come from far and near to buy them but she will not sell one.  Rather, she slips into the city at night and finds the poor and homeless and wraps them up in one of her lovely quilts.


Finally, the wealthy king hears about the Quilt-maker and is offended that she has never given him one of her priceless quilts so although he has almost everything already, he comes with a thousand soldiers to take one for himself.  The Quilt-maker announces she will only give him a quilt if he gives away everything he owns.  Angered, the King attempts to take a quilt anyway, but magically, it whisks out of the window and away.


The King attempts to punish the Quilt-maker, yet every time he feels remorse and goes to intervene, only to find each time that she has already been saved through her own kindnesses to others.


Finally, the king agrees to give everything he owns away, for the sake of a quilt, and this is where I usually start bawling my eyes out.  But why don't you just listen in for yourself to this read aloud of the Quilt-maker's Gift:



  Now, having fallen in love with this story, I wanted to create some sort of literacy activity for my children to do.  We know that quilt-making can be an incredible classroom project, for one thing.  Just take a peek at this lovely group of ideas on a blog from Rainbows within Reach.

But I also decided to create a few activities for kids to do individually at literacy centers or for young home-schooled children to do, after reading the story.

First, I read up on easy quilt patterns and found one called "The Friendship Star".


Children choose two colors to fill in their patterns with, and then simply color in the quilt pieces.


The end result is a beautiful example of how simple geometric shapes that are repeated over and over can create the beautiful finished quilt design.


Our craft project involves creating a paper quilt from a printout and it is a simple cut and paste project.  The fabric swatch images are reproductions of material designs from the 1800's when quilts were having their hey-day, but you can also print them out as black and white images for children to color themselves in brighter cheery colors.


We also tried this craft, by using actual fabric swatches that we mod-podged (Elmer's glue would work fine, too) to the paper.


This was another great way to recreate a quilt, but I would recommend cutting the fabric swatches ahead of time in advance and not attempting to have children do the cutting.  Fabric can be so... squirrely... to cut!

You can check out our Reading Literacy activity for The Quiltmaker's Gift in our store, or look over our preview for the packet, in more detail right here:


"The Quiltmaker's Gift" is such a beautiful story of generosity and kindness, that there are many additional ideas that could be implemented for students to practice giving on their own.

What are some ideas that you could see yourself doing in a classroom setting or one on one?  I'd love for you to share additional ideas in the comments below!