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Unit Study in The Mitten by Jan Brett — Part II and James on Ecosystems

January 13, 2009

We did the same rhymes and finger plays we did yesterday.

We did the activity with rhyming cards again. She doesn’t have the hang of rhyming yet, but she thinks it’s fun to match them according to the colors on the back. (They are color coded, on the backs, to be self correcting) We would line up the cards that went together: hair — bear — chair. Trishy would devise goofy storylines. “It looks like the bear has hair and he has a chair stuck to his butt.”

We also looked at our name cards, in English and Spanish, for the kinds of animals in The Mitten.


We did the Living Things/Non-Living Things matching activity again. This time, it was a breeze for her. She grasped the idea that “things that are alive are usually things that grow — sometimes they grow out of the ground.” Although she informed me that “Sometimes shoes grow, because they get too small.” 😀

Art/Sensory —

She made homemade play dough snowmen –an idea which I shamelessly stole from this post on Piseco’s blog.

It was fun. I took out all the little Sculpey hats and stuff, plus a little scarf I’d made from felt. I asked her what she thought we’d make. She guessed “little men.” She helped me make the playdough; I filled the measuring cups and she poured. Next I rolled a big ball, and a medium sized ball — then she guessed what we were making.

You might think Trishy would make a nice, photogenic snowman like Piseco’s kids made. But you’d be wrong. 😀 You see, she has the ability to make representational art — she just doesn’t see the point. 😉 She started out with a traditional guy — carrot nose, banana mouth. She had no trouble figuring out what the stuff was for. Then she decided her snow guy needed two extra noses protruding from his chest. It kind of took off from there.

I was remembering when Sarah was in Kindergarten. Their letter of the week was “C” and everybody was coloring cows. Sarah told me her teacher had corrected her for coloring it purple. I found the idea of correcting a child for making a purple cow blood-curdlingly frightening. Years later, another teacher told her she shouldn’t draw a unicorn in her apple orchard. Shortly after that, our family made its break with full-time public education.

I kind of like Trishy’s surreal snowman. 😉 There is something about it that is SO representative of life in this house. Another of my kiddosdecided to make an anatomically correct snowman. I never imagined that banana would be misused in such a way. Umm … by the way, it was the 43-year-old child who did that. Some boys never grow up.

James decided he wanted to make another snow scene on a cookie sheet, using shaving cream and opal glitter, like we did yesterday. Later he showed me that he had made “a whole food chain.” His scene showed animals devouring one another. It was complete with red food coloring for blood. Am I the only one who finds raising a boy to be a particularly surreal experience?

He showed me how his food chain worked, complete with a raccoon (the scavenger) waiting for a chance at the remains.

On the way to his piano lesson, James followed up on that unschooled project on ecosystems. 🙂 He said (I’m paraphrasing):

I was thinking about the way God keeps making new things — like all the different snowflakes. I was thinking He might make something that would be a threat to humans. Right now, nothing is a threat to us. We’re too powerful. It’s like there’s a whole group of dogs and one keeps peeing on everything, claiming the whole area as its territory.

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