Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Five in a Row with "Lentil"

We had so much fun "rowing" Lentil recently, that I just had to document it in the form of a blog post.  When I use the word, "rowing," I am referring to the "Five in a Row" curriculum term, which basically means reading a specific classic book each day for five days in a row.  On each of the days, we make the book and its many concepts come to life by doing fun activities together.

Recently, we read "Lentil".  In the book, the vocally challenged Lentil finds his mantra through the harmonica and ends up saving the day with it.  That is a very brief synopsis, but the book actually had so many different interesting and fun pieces to it.  A quick search on pinterest and several other sites (including gave me a plethora of ideas for activities to complete with the kids while we rowed the book.  We have actually even extended our "rowing" beyond the five days, because we have enjoyed this book so much.

On the first day, I got out my harmonica for the kids to try out.  This was a huge hit!  The kids loved it, which excited me since I have a huge love for music and musical instruments.  My plan was to take them to a music store and let them try out various instruments to see if there was anything they would have an interest in playing (whether now or in the future).  In the book, Lentil plays the harmonic in the bathtub, because it improved the tone 100% (discussion of the 100% was a great opportunity to do activities that taught the kids about percentage).   Abbey decided to try out the harmonica in the bathtub, to see if the tone really was significantly improved.

Then, we made that trip to the music store.  The employees measured Abbey and Luke's arm lengths to see which violin would be appropriate for them to try out.  The violin for Abbey was the tiniest one they make, and looked like it was a toy for a baby doll.  It was adorable.  And then they showed Abbey how to hold it.  Oh. My. Goodness.  It was the most precious thing ever.  All of the employees in the store were saying with a "how sweet" tone in their voices, "Awwwwwww" when they saw her holding the tiny violin. And honestly, the violin didn't look tiny when she held it.  It looked just her size.  I guess the measuring thing is done for a reason--ha!  Here is a video of her playing the little violin.  They didn't have any used bows that they would let her use, so she just used her fingers to pluck the strings.


We didn't buy a violin while we were there--that thing was $400!   But, I did look for used ones on craigslist when I returned home and found I could probably pick one up for a quarter of that cost!  Now, I will just wait to see if Abbey shows more interest in learning and can take care of one appropriately.    Although we didn't purchase any musical instruments, I did pick up a beginning Alfred's basic piano book, so I can give Luke piano lessons.  These are the same books I learned on when I was a child.  I was going to seek out a private teacher to give Luke piano lessons, but then I figured, why pay someone else to teach him when I can do so for free.  So, that is what we are doing.   I feel strongly that music is vital to their education.  So many studies have shown the numerous values of a musical education and playing musical instruments--including studies which show its value in math.  The link between the physical practice of music and strong mathematical abilities are demonstrated in studies that show that kids who play a musical instrument can perform more complex arithmetical operations than those who do not play an instrument. The constant practice, the attention to detail and the discipline it takes to learn an instrument are also excellent preparation for the practice involved in building strong math skills.

Art was another fun subject we got to tackle with our reading of "Lentil."  The artwork in the book is very cool and was completely created by using charcoal.  So, we had some fun experimenting using charcoal.  We also learned about charcoal's earliest uses in cave art (believed to be created using burnt sticks) and how its made.

 In the book, a grumpy older character, "Old Sneep" is usually seen sitting on a park bench whittling.  So, the next day, we practiced "whittling" with some soap.  I purchased some cheap soap for Luke, Abbey and I to practice on.

We began by drawing on the soap the outline of what we wished to whittle.

Abbey chose the flower.
Luke chose the fish, and I chose the penguin.  As you can see on this picture,  Abbey and I were not as successful as Luke--ha!
It was very difficult to whittle with the soap I bought, as it was extremely soft and broke easily.  The technique that Abbey and I chose involved sticking our knife right into the outline of the design and then attempt to pry the outside soap off.  Abbey learned in her first jab that that didn't work.  Her flower fell apart into pieces with her first jab of the knife.  You would have thought I would have learned from that, but I didn't.   I didn't think it out as well as Luke did.  But Luke is so good at building and creating things.  His mind works so well with these activities.  He patiently whittled away the soap, slowly working his way from the outside of the soap bar towards the outline of the fish.

He was the only one successful at the task at hand.

Patience pays, folks.

From left to right:  penguin (with sad wings which fell off but I pressed back on), flower, and fish. 
In the book, old Sneep sucks on a lemon and it makes those around him pucker--the band couldn't even play their instruments because they were puckering.  But, Lentil wasn't able to pucker, so he stepped in and saved the day by playing his harmonica as the town hero arrived and stepped off the train.  So, the kids and I did a lesson on taste buds.  Did you know that we have 10,000 taste buds on our tongue?  Every two weeks, old ones are replaced.  As we age, some of those taste buds are not replaced.  Thus, some older folks may have only 5,000 taste buds.  Kids are great at regenerating things, so almost all have 10,000 taste buds.  This is why often kids have stronger senses of taste than older adults do.  We also learned about how taste and smell are so closely connected.  And, of course we learned about the four different tastes:  bitter, salty, sour, sweet.  The kids had lots of fun with this one.  We tried different foods that fell into each of the categories.

We also plugged our noses and tasted different foods to see if it made a difference in how it tasted.
Luke tasting sweet applesauce with his nose plugged.

Abbey tasting a sour lemon.
We also did a fun exercise about our communities.  In this activity, we discussed and drew pictures of our family, our house, our city, our county, our state, our country, our continent and our planet.  This gave Luke (who did this activity) a great sense of how we are part of something much bigger.   As a kid, community seems like something so much smaller.

We had a blast with Lentil (and still are), so we are renewing this library book!   

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