We recently spent a little over a week rowing Owl Moon by Jane Yolen. This was another one of those books unknown to me before Five in a Row (FIAR) introduced us. All my kids seem to have a fascination with owls, so we enjoyed our time with this book. The main character is a brave child (probably a girl, but it’s never stated, and Ian preferred to think it was a boy), and the discussion of bravery fit in well with our current Bible story of David and Goliath (post coming soon).
We did several of the activities in the Five in a Row manual (Vol. 2). I briefly discussed the Caldecott award with Ian, pointing out the “medal” on the front cover, and ever since he has been calling my attention to other books he find in our library that were awarded either the gold Caldecott medal or the silver Caldecott honor. When we talked about similes, I first read Ian Quick as a Cricket by Audrey Wood to help him understand the concept. He wasn’t able to pick them out of Owl Moon by himself, but he was starting to understand when I pointed them out. It was a good introduction anyway.
We also spent time on a few additional activities:
I haven’t worked with Ian a lot on spelling because I don’t want it to be something separate from the rest of what we’re learning. However I do like to try incorporating spelling lessons into other things we’re working on. This seemed like a good opportunity to talk about the short “ow” sound (as in “owl”). I found a couple fun videos about the sound (one from the old TV show Electric Company on YouTube, and one from FirstStepReading.com) that had both boys giggling and reading along. Then Ian did a “word sort” of words spelled ow/ou from All Sorts of Sorts by Sheron Brown. (When we do these, I have him sort the words independently and then I check them before he glues them down. After that’s done I have him read through all the words.)
After spending the first part of the year using Exploring Creation With Astronomy, Ian enjoyed learning more about the phases of the moon. We enjoyed a visual simulation that helped demonstrate what causes the moon to look the way it does. Then everyone enjoyed using Joe-Joes (like Oreos) to show the different phases using a guide I’d found back when we rowed Goodnight Moon. I had planned on using a free set of phases of the moon cards, but I didn’t get them made ahead of time so it never happened. Neither did the “mystery moons” activity I had thought sounded fun. Oh well, maybe next time!
As I mentioned before, all my kids are intrigued by owls, so I wanted to spend some time studying them more in depth. We found a National Geographic special called “The Silent Hunters” on YouTube. Gail Gibbons’ book Owls is full of beautiful pictures and great information, like the two families of owls: typical owls (Strigidae) and barn owls (Tytonidae). That knowledge helped our understanding when we had a family movie night watching Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole. (We really enjoyed the movie. I hope to read through the Guardians of Ga’hoole book series by Kathryn Lasky as well at some point.) We talked about what (and how) owls eat and dissected owl pellets. (I bought a Young Scientists kit that contained other activities we can do another time.) Elijah wasn’t so sure about it at first, but eventually he was fascinated enough to want his own turn studying the bones we found. If you’re not up to the real thing, there’s a “virtual dissection” available online at KidWings.
We had a great time with Owl Moon. One day we watched the story on DVD in the Scholastic Storybook Treasures (Collection 2). We also enjoyed the story Owl Babies by Martin Waddell (both the book and a video on YouTube). Ian’s been really into drawing, so I took him through the steps of “How to Draw an Owl” from Art Projects for Kids. All in all, I’d say it was a successful row! The day I was finishing this post, we went to a local children’s museum, and in the room with all kinds of wild animals (a tribute to taxidermy) Ian was quick to find an owl. “Hey! We studied that!” Why, yes, we did.